Genius Savant: Review of “The Einstein Syndrome”

Sowell was the prime mover to examine the phenomena of bright children who talked late, he named it after Einstein as he was a famous example of being a late talker (he recalled he began talking at 4 while other family members claimed it was 2). The common characteristics have been discovered as:

  1. Outstanding and precocious analytical abilities and/or musical abilities
  2. Outstanding memories
  3. Strong wills
  4. Highly effective interests, leading to unusual achievements in some areas and disinterest and ineptness in others
  5. Delayed toilet training
  6. Precocious ability to read and/or use numbers and/or use computers
  7. Close relatives in occupation requiring analytical or musical ability
  8. Unusual concentration in what they are doing

Many psychologists and social workers were quick to dismiss the cases as autistm or attention deficit disorder, but naturally, the children were able to outgrow their condition and function as adults, even become employed in jobs requiring high social skills. Interestingly, Williams Syndrome is the exact opposite of Einstein Syndrome, the children develop highly effective social skills at a very young age but their mental capacity is limited, most cannot possess reading comprehension beyond a first grader and have problems doing simple algorithm like 5-2. While Einstein Syndrome’s symptoms can be reduced, Williams Syndrome is here to stay for life.

Many famous people were documented as being a late talker and exhibiting the same symptoms: Julia Robinson- mathematician, Clara Schumann – pianist, Edward Teller – physicist, Arthur Rubinstein – pianist, Stephen Wiltshire- painter. All of them were labelled as mentally retarded at some point in their childhood by relatives, teachers but later on to become great in whatever fields they decide to pursue.

The discovery of this phenomena has caused an uproar in the health professions, many felt threatened by Sowell and Camarata (another researcher). But in an ever conforming  world, anything deviating from the norm is seen as a problem. By targeting these children especially with medication will not help them.

Linking with my previous blog post which I talked about children with disability. The emphasis here is that these children are not disabled, far from it, many grew up to be successful scientists and engineers. In these cases, parents put on the shoes of Dominique Francon from the Founrainhead. They believe in their children but too afraid for them to get hurt, instead they put their children through excruciating clinical tests to adjust their children to what is deemed as normal. But like Howard Roark, late talking children are known to be highly stubborn in their thinking and behaviour, thus the best thing to do is to let them develop on their own and eventually when they are confident enough (familiarity and confidence are key to speaking in the case studies, rather than persistence) they would speak.


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